Setting an exam paper doesn’t have to be stressful. A planned and detailed approach simplifies the task and enhances the quality of the exam. Let’s find out how to set an exam paper that aligns with the objectives and purpose of the test.
Exams are stressful for everyone. If parents and students focus on the writing part, teachers are responsible for setting the ‘right’ exam paper. Various elements come into play at this stage. Setting the exam paper is a strenuous and time-consuming task for teachers. They have to be thorough and ensure that the exam paper aligns with the purpose/ reason for testing the students.
Luckily, advancements in technology and EdTech tools help teachers set the exam paper in less time. Artificial intelligence-based tools assist teachers in creating the exam paper and customizing it within minutes.
But what makes a good exam paper? How to create an exam paper that helps assess the skills and knowledge of the students? Let’s read and find out.
How Do You Write a Good Question Paper?
Before we go into detail about the ways to set an exam paper, we’ll first understand the attributes of a good question paper. The results of an exam depending on the test paper as well as the students’ abilities.
Are the questions readable? The results of the test should not change based on who the tester or scorer is but based on who takes the exam.
How easy or difficult are the questions to understand? A student can provide an answer only when they understand what the question means. The questions need to be specific and not vague.
The question might have been taken from the syllabus but is it relevant in the overall context of the exam? Does it test the students’ memory, skills, or knowledge?
Objectivity and Scope
An exam paper needs to be objective and free of personal bias. The questions should not target or attack a group, community, culture, or ethnicity. Similarly, the scope of the questions needs to be defined for the student to know how much to answer.
Purpose or Intent
What is the purpose of the exam? Do you want to test the student’s memory? Do you want to test their ability to work things on their own?
The questions have to stimulate and make students think. They shouldn’t lead the student to assume or be biased but should nudge them to consider all alternatives and write their opinions.
Limiting the Focus
An exam paper has multiple questions to cover the vast syllabus and test the students’ abilities in different ways. It’s important to not overuse a question and make it multi-dimensional. Let a question focus on one aspect while another question deals with a different aspect.
Types of Questions in an Exam Paper
It’s up to the teachers to decide the type of questions you want to include in the test paper. Should the exam paper include objective questions, or should it be descriptive? Maybe a combination of both for a balanced assessment.
Let’s look at the different types of questions used in exam papers. You can rely on test generators to choose the types of questions and create the exam paper.
MCQ is a question with three to four choices, where only one of them is the correct answer. These questions can be quickly answered but can also be a little confusing, based on the difficulty level. Rephrase sentences from the textbook and structure them clearly to avoid being vague. Some AI-based question generator tools allow you to create MCQs and assign scores for correct answers in advance. It also allows you to provide instant feedback to students with reference links for them to learn and understand.
True or False
A compound statement is made, and the student has to determine if it is correct or incorrect. This question can only have two answers. Students can guess the answer and have a 50% probability of getting it right. Don’t make the sentences too complex. Double negatives can be misleading. Keep the statements uni-dimensional and stick to one theme.
Filling the blanks can also be termed a short answer type of question. These questions have only one correct answer and are easy to complete in less time. A single question can have more than one blank, though it is recommended to not add beyond four blanks. Don’t take out too many words as it makes the question vague and difficult to understand. You can include a prompt at the end of the question by providing two or three options to choose the best fit.
Matching questions are easy enough to answer though they can be a little time-consuming compared to the previous two types of questions. The questions should be short and to the point. Provide clear instructions about how to match the columns. Don’t ask more than five or ten matching questions. They should all fit on one side of the paper.
Essay or Descriptive
Descriptive questions require moderate to long answers for a question. These questions take the most time and test the memory, comprehension abilities, and knowledge of the students. Students have to think, analyze, and answer the question. Make the intent clear by using words such as compare, contrast, describe, explain, etc. Word the question as clearly as possible. Suggest the number of words or lines you want the answer to be. Descriptive questions can be complex or simple.
The exams can be conducted online or offline. You can create the test paper using the tools and print the questions for an offline exam. A few edtech platforms allow you to create the test paper and conduct the exam online. You can track each student’s details (device information, IP address, time taken for the exam, location, questions left unanswered, etc.) to maintain a proper record of the test.
How to Set a Good Exam Paper?
Setting a good exam paper requires effort and understanding. Teachers have to consider a range of aspects such as the need for the test, the source, the duration, and the scoring system to ensure there is no bias, discrimination, or prejudice. Students should have equal opportunities to attempt the exam and prove their abilities.
1. Determine the Need for the Test
It is always crucial to establish the ground rules first. What do you wish to achieve by conducting the exam? Make a list of aspects you want to assess. This list will help in creating the exam paper. The questions should align with what has been taught in the class and what you wish to assess. There should be no gap between the knowledge imparted and the knowledge being tested.
2. Choose the Types of Questions
The types of questions depend on your exam objectives. For example, MCQs cannot be used if you want to test the students’ abilities to explain their ideas in words or analyze a topic and share their ideas. Descriptive questions work best to get an insight into the student’s thought process. Similarly, true or false questions can be used to assess if the students have a clear idea about a topic and can differentiate between right and wrong.
3. Use Authentic and Validated References
When you create a question paper from text, make sure to use authentic references which have already been shared with the students. Textbooks by another publisher cannot be used to create an exam paper when the students have been taught from different source material.
- Copy-paste text from the digital source material
- Enter the topic name and search online through the tool
- Upload video file or video URL
- Upload PDF/ Docx files from the computer
4. Rely on Question Generation Platform
Whether you want to conduct a surprise test or a full-fledged exam, using technology can save time, energy, and resources. There are various question generator platforms in the market that help you create an exam paper in just a few minutes. Moreover, you retain control over the process and can make the necessary changes to the question paper before finalizing it.
PrepAI uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing to read the input material and create a question paper based on your requirements. It is a comprehensive tool that allows you to include different types of questions, choose the difficulty level, and edit the questions to match your exam objectives.
5. Edit and Finalize the Exam Paper
It’s crucial to edit the exam paper before you finalize it. Get the test paper assessed by another teacher to confirm that it is clear, concise, and free of bias. It doesn’t matter if you used the traditional method or relied on technology to set the paper. A round or two of editing is a must to ensure there are no errors. Most question generator tools allow you to edit the questions automatically created for the input text.
6. Provide Clear Instructions
Mention the instructions at the top of the exam paper. Be clear, precise, and specific. List the dos and don’ts in neat order and explain what you expect from the students taking the exam. Write the instructions in short and simple sentences. Avoid complex terminology.
7. Set the Exam Duration
You need to set the duration for the exam after finalizing the paper. Determine the number of questions, their complexity, and the time taken to answer the short and long questions. Though exams test the students’ ability to perform in a limited time, remember that it also creates pressure that leads to mistakes and stress attacks. An effective way to set the exam duration is by taking the test yourself along with another teacher.
8. Develop the Scoring System
How do you plan to assess the exam papers? Have you allotted marks for each question? Do the marks match the question in terms of ease of answering, duration, and length? Each question can have a different score to further detail the exam paper.
For example, an MCQ in a Mathematics exam might require the student to solve the question before choosing the correct answer. This requires more time and can have a higher score. Descriptive questions are marked higher than objective questions.
9. Conduct the Exam
The last step is to conduct the exam either online or offline as per the guidelines of the educational institution. You can use the same exam software to automate assessments if the feature is provided by the platform.
Take time to set the exam paper and use student feedback to make changes if necessary. The exam should give you a comprehensive picture of the student’s abilities and identify the areas for improvement.
Make use of the latest technology and tools like PrepAI to simplify the process and reduce stress. You can create better-quality question papers with minimum effort from your side. This gives you enough time to assess the test paper and ensure that it meets the requirements.